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DUI Manslaughter

Not every fatality that occurs on the roadway should result in an arrest or prosecution for DUI manslaughter. In many of these cases, conduct that would normally warrant only a traffic infraction suddenly results in a felony DUI manslaughter prosecution only because a death resulted from the accident.

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you on these charges as soon after the crash as possible is critical. Never make a statement to law enforcement once a criminal investigation for DUI manslaughter begins until after you have spoken with an attorney.

Many of these cases involve a forced blood draw taken without a warrant. Under recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court in Missouri v. McNeely and Birchfield v. North Dakota, a warrantless taking of blood is "per se" unconstitutional. Florida's entire statutory scheme for forced blood draws and implied consent is in jeopardy.

Attorney for DUI Manslaughter Prosecutions in Tampa, FL

If your rights were violated and your attorney files and litigates the appropriate motions, the blood evidence taken in your case might be suppressed which can result in the entire case being dismissed. In other cases, the accuracy and reliability of the blood testing methods used in your case can be attacked at trial.

If you were arrested for DUI Manslaughter in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, or Polk County, Florida, then contact an experienced DUI attorney at the Sammis Law Firm today to discuss your case.

During the free consultation with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Tampa, FL, we can discuss the charges pending against you, ways to avoid the typical punishments, and the best defenses that can be used to fight the accusations.

Call 813-250-0500 today.


DUI Manslaughter Prosecutions under Florida Law

Under Florida Statute § 316.193(3)(c)(3), DUI manslaughter under is an accusation that the accused drove while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, and as a result of the DUI, the accused caused or contributed to the cause of the death of victim. Florida Statute Section 316.193(3) provides:

Florida Statute Section 316.193(3) provides:

The death of any human being or unborn child commits DUI manslaughter, and commits:
a.      A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
b.      A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:
(I)      At the time of the crash, the person knew, or should have known, that the crash occurred; and
(II)     The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.
Furthermore, under section 316.193(3), Florida Statutes, “A person who is convicted of DUI manslaughter shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years.” State v. Yeomans, 172 So. 3d 1006, 1008 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015)(citing State v. Schumacher, 99 So.3d 632, 633 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) (holding sentence of two years' community control followed by eight years' probation for DUI manslaughter was an illegal sentence in light of four-year mandatory minimum under section 316.193(3)). 
Under State v. Vanderhoff, 14 So.3d 1185, 1189 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009), the court found that only the State Attorney has authority to waive a mandatory minimum sentence.

Preserving Evidence after a Manslaughter Accusation

At the Sammis Law Firm, our attorneys understand the importance hiring the most qualified expert witnesses, including an accident reconstruction expert or toxicologist in Florida, who will play a critical role in the defense of a DUI manslaughter case.

Florida law enforcement officers will conduct their own investigation to support the DUI manslaughter charges. But it is also important for the defense to quickly retain an expert to conduct an independent accident investigation and reconstruction to show defenses that exist in the case.

Our criminal defense lawyers take a scholarly approach to fighting DUI manslaughter cases including filing motions to suppress evidence, motions to dismiss criminal charges, and Motions in Limine to exclude prejudicial evidence at trial. The key to obtaining the best result is fighting each aspect of the state's case and gradual and systematically dismantling the prosecutor's case piece by piece.

Furthermore, steps must be immediately taken to preserve all of the evidence. Your attorney must fight to protect your rights during the investigation. A good defense often requires:

  1. Fighting any effort by the State to obtain the results of any blood drawn for medical purposes;
  2. Having an attorney present for any interrogation by law enforcement;
  3. Taking pictures of the damage sustained by the vehicles involved in the accident;
  4. Taking pictures of the location where the accident occurred, including any marks left on the roadway;
  5. Obtaining witness statements of anyone who witnessed the accident; and
  6. Obtaining hospital medical records of anyone injured or killed in the accident.

Fighting the DUI Manslaughter Charge

If you have been arrested for DUI manslaughter in Florida, including Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, or Sarasota County, contact the Sammis Law Firm to discuss ways to aggressively fight the serious charges that have been made against you. Your freedom and liberty depend on the actions that your attorney takes early in the case, as well as the strategy your criminal defense attorney uses throughout every stage of the investigation and prosecution in court.

Our criminal defense attorneys represent both men and women charged with serious driving offenses such as DUI manslaughter throughout the Tampa Bay area including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Dade City, Brooksville, Bartow, Bradenton, and Sarasota, Florida. Call 813-250-0500 today to speak directly with an attorney about your case.


Related Charges from a Vehicle Crash Involving Death, Personal Injury or Serious Bodily Injury:

  • Vehicular Homicide under Florida Law

Vehicular Homicide is a second degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of fifteen years in Florida State Prison, and a $10,000,00 fine. However, the offense may be enhanced to a first degree felony punishable by thirty years in prison if the driver willfully left the scene of an accident.

  • Vehicular Manslaughter under Florida Law

Under Florida Statute § 782.071, vehicular manslaughter is an accusation that a driver killed another human being by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another. To prosecute a vehicular manslaughter charge, the state does not need to prove that the driver had the intent to harm anyone, but instead, that the operation of the vehicle was in a manner likely to cause the death or great bodily injury of another.


Recent Statistics in Florida DUI Manslaughter Cases

According to a recent news article, Hillsborough County has higher than average sentences for DUI manslaughter at 10.18 years in Florida State Prison. Palm Beach County came in higher with an average of 11.54 years in prison. The study looked at more than 400 fatality cases resolved in Florida since 2012. The statewide average prison sentence is just under 10 years.

Although Miami-Dade had the highest number of cases, it also had the lowest average sentence which was just over 6 years. The average in Broward County was just under 10 years.


Pre-Trial Detention in DUI Manslaughter Cases in Florida

Florida Statute Section 907.041(4)(a)(c) allows, but does not require, the Court to order pretrial detention with no bond if:

  • the prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office filed a motion for pre-trial detention;
  • the defendant is accused of the crime of DUI manslaughter;
  • the defendant poses a threat of harm to the community; and
  • the court makes a finding the defendant has previously been found guilty of, or has an adjudication of guilt withheld for either:
    • driving under the influence in violation of 316.193(1)(a); or
    • driving while the defendant's driver's license was suspended or revoked in violation of 322.34, F.S.

Finding a Tampa Attorney for DUI Manslaughter

DUI defense attorney in Tampa, FL. With the average sentence of just over ten years in Hillsborough County, FL, the penalties are harsh in these cases. Related charges including vehicular homicide, DUI with serious bodily injury, hit and run (leaving the scene) and DUI with property damage or non-serious personal injury. 

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are experienced in fighting serious felony DUI cases. Call 813-250-0500 to talk with an attorney today during a free consultation.


This article was last updated on Friday, March 3, 2017.